Peninsula counties tops in state in vaccination percentages

‘Huge achievement,’ health officer says

Jefferson and Clallam counties are at the forefront of the state in percentage of population vaccinated.

Jefferson County is first in the state in percentage of people beginning the two-dose vaccination process and in vaccinations completed, while Clallam County is second in percentage of vaccinations completed and third in percentage of people beginning vaccinations, according to the state’s dashboard.

As of Saturday, Jefferson County had administered a total of 21,913 doses, with 47.05 percent of residents or 15,008 people having received their first shot, and 32.18 percent of residents or 10,266 people fully vaccinated, according to state figures.

Clallam County has administered a total of 57,071 doses, with 39.28 percent of residents or 29,860 people having received their first shot, and 29.43 percent of residents or 22,373 people fully vaccinated as of Saturday, according to state figures.

San Juan County is ahead of Clallam County for first doses in terms of percentage but not total numbers. As of Saturday, the county reported 40.4 percent of its residents had begun vaccinations as of Friday. That is 6,928 people of its total population of 17,150, which is significantly less than Clallam County’s 29,860, according to the state.

The vaccine distribution among Peninsula hospitals, pharmacies and public health departments has been crucial to the vaccine rollout, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.

“I think this is a huge achievement of the Olympic Peninsula,” he said Wednesday. “Jefferson and Clallam have been neck-and-neck for awhile now, and to me, it illustrates the power of community partnerships.

“We have done this with virtually no state support at all, and I mean that in every respect.”

The counties have had no support in regard to staffing, planning or funding the various vaccination clinics run by local hospitals, Jamestown S’Klallam or the public health departments, Locke said.

“That’s really become an issue, because it’s the job of the state to pass through federal funding that’s been appropriated to the people doing the vaccinations, and that has yet to happen,” he said.

The state expanded eligibility for vaccines into the 1B3 and 1B4 tiers Wednesday. The newly opened tiers include restaurant, construction, agriculture and other congregate workers. It also covers people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, lung or heart disease as well as chemotherapy patients.

A total of 5 million people, or five out of six people in Washington, now qualify for vaccination, Gov. Jay Inslee said in a press release.

The conditions listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are published at https://tinyurl.com/PDN- ChronicConditions.

“If you have a chronic medical problem, you’re probably on that list,” Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer, has said.

Those previously eligible for vaccinations under previous phases remain eligible for shots.

Starting April 15, all Washington residents 16 and older will be eligible for vaccinations, Inslee announced late Wednesday afternoon.

Clallam County Health Officer Dr. Allison Berry urges residents to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.

“A lot more things become an option and safer once you’re fully vaccinated,” she said. “We’re starting to see more folks in these younger populations saying they would like to wait to get vaccinated.

“That makes me nervous. That rapid vaccination of a large percentage of our population is what prevents a fourth wave in our community. This vaccine has been extensively studied, it is incredibly safe, it is highly recommended,” she continued.

“I have gotten both of my shots. I would not recommend a vaccination to the public that I and my family would not take.”

Clallam County confirmed three new cases Wednesday, while Jefferson held steady with no new cases.

Appointments for vaccination clinics this Saturday and April 10 at Port Angeles High School — there will not be a clinic Sunday due to the Easter holiday — can be made at http://vaccine.clallam.net/register. Appointments also can be made by phone at 360-417-2430.

The Port Angeles clinic this Saturday is the only clinic using Pfizer’s vaccine, which is the only one approved for those 16 and older.

The next clinic using Pfizer vaccine in Port Angeles will be in three weeks, so those 16 and older should register as soon as possible if they want the vaccine. Each of those who are 16 and 17 are asked to bring a parent with them to sign a consent form, Berry said.

Appointments are full for Thursday’s Jamestown Sequim clinic.

Appointments for Jefferson Healthcare’s clinic can be made at https://jeffersonhealthcare.org/covid-19-vaccine.

Clallam County has confirmed 60 cases of COVID-19 so far this month, about 5.66 percent of the 1,061 cases confirmed during the past year, according to county data.

Jefferson County has confirmed nine cases this month, about 2.61 percent of the 345 cases confirmed in the past year, according to county Public Health data.

Seventeen COVID-19 cases were active as of Wednesday in Clallam County. Jefferson County had two active cases.

Jefferson County is in the state’s low-risk category with a case rate of about 22 per 100,000 population for the two weeks prior as of Saturday, while Clallam County is in the state’s moderate-risk category with a case rate of 37 per 100,000 for the two weeks prior to Wednesday.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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